Japan Electric Car Sales Drop As Country Awaits 2nd-Gen EVs −

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Published on March 9th, 2017 | by James Ayre


Japan Electric Car Sales Drop As Country Awaits 2nd-Gen EVs

March 9th, 2017 by

The Japanese electric vehicle market is comprised almost entirely of Japanese auto manufacturers (unsurprisingly), which makes the market an interesting contrast to free-for-all markets like the US.

The Nissan LEAF has over the past few years more or less dominated the market. Though, the first-generation Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (PHEV) had respectable sales as well — which makes the release of the Toyota Prius Prime (the second-gen PHEV version of the Prius) an important event there, market wise.

We’ll have to wait a bit longer to see what the debut numbers for the Prius Prime are in Japan, though, as the most recent figures that we have for the Japanese electric vehicle market are for January 2017 (and the US apparently started receiving the new plug-in before Japan).

Japan’s January sales figures are interesting in their own right, though. Plug-in sales were apparently down around 48% year on year (as compared to January 2016). Altogether, only around 1,800 units were sold — making for a market share of 0.46% (of the total automotive market in the country).

That makes January 2017 the worst January for electric vehicle sales in Japan since back in 2012.

As noted by the EV Sales blog, the source of the data, this “doesn’t come as a surprise, considering how the two local heavyweights are behaving. The 30 kWh-kick effect has waned and the Nissan LEAF, the main driving force of the market, responsible for 78% of the market, has seen its sales slow down, so unless Nissan throws something new onto the table (40 kWh version, Gen 2 Leaf …), sales will continue to drop and the upcoming 2nd generation Toyota Prius PHEV will have the 2017 Best Seller trophy served on a silver platter. To worsen things, the emissions scandal is continuing to hurt Mitsubishi and its Outlander PHEV, with registrations down 76%(!) to 190 units last month.”

Something else to note here is that, as sales of the series hybrid version of the Nissan Note are quite good in Japan, that’s very likely the model that is siphoning some “green car” buyers from the LEAF.

As you can see in the figures posted here, beyond Nissan and Mitsubishi sales, the market is looking pretty dismal — with the remainder of buyers choosing BMW’s or Tesla’s electric offerings. Presumably, no other automakers feel compelled to offer electric vehicles in Japan.

While I’m curious to see what Toyota Prius Prime sales in the market will be like (probably very good), I’m also rather curious to see how the Tesla Model 3 does in Japan. Good sales seem likely, but who knows? …

Model January 2017 January 2016 YoY Change % of EV Market — January 2017 % of EV Market — January 2016
Nissan LEAF 1431 2503 -42.8% 77.1% 69.7%
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 190 801 -76.3% 10.2% 22.3%
BMW i3 80 100 -20.0% 4.3% 2.8%
Nissan e-NV200* 75 50 50.0% 4.0% 1.4%
Mitsubishi i-MiEV 31 31 0.0% 1.7% 0.9%
Tesla Model S 15 25 -40.0% 0.8% 0.7%
Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV 11 23 -52.2% 0.6% 0.6%
BMW 330e* 10 0 0.5% 0.0%
BMW i8* 5 5 0.0% 0.3% 0.1%
Tesla Model X 5 0 0.3% 0.0%
Mitsubishi Minicab MiEV Truck 4 6 -33.3% 0.2% 0.2%
Toyota Prius Plug-In 0 46 0.0% 1.3%
TOTAL 1857 3590 -48.3% 100.0% 100.0%

Also published on CleanTechnica.


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • So it looks like the Ford and Chevy plug-ins are not offered in Japan? A car like the Chevy Spark EV and Cmax Energi would do great in Japan. My wife and I are really liking the Cmax Energi we just bought (I still prefer the more EV feel of my Volt). My local CarMax has 4 or 5 level 2 chargers and they had a Volt, Leaf, i3, Cmax Energi, and Chevy Spark EV on the lot. My salesman encouraged me to test drive the i3 even though I had just bought the Cmax. Wow! The i3 is such a neat and unique vehicle both in feel and aesthetics. Very quick and it feels like you are sitting in a classy Starbucks. I loved the speed, the wood in the dash, the natural looking fabrics, and the visible carbon fiber. The Spark EV is really the car that piqued my interest though. The one at the local store was sold so we could only sit in it and turn it on but based on online info, It has great performance and is quite affordable with several examples under $10k at nearby CarMax stores. I am selling a few other gasmobiles in my household and will be looking for a used Spark EV for the kids to drive around in. Based on what I’ve been reading about it though, I suspect I will like it better than the Volt or Cmax and may have to “borrow” the kids car quite often 😉

    • Yeah. Basically just the Japanese models and truly global EV brands (BMW, Nissan, Tesla)

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